Impact of Capacity Cuts at Amsterdam Schiphol for KLM

Impact of Capacity Cuts at Amsterdam Schiphol for KLM

DALLAS – As the dust settles following the Dutch government’s decision to limit capacity at Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) from November 2023, resident carrier KLM (KL) has expressed frustration and, more surprisingly, bewilderment. The Dutch carrier claims in a press release that it is “surprised by the government’s sudden resolve to substantially cut back operations at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.” As it looks to the future, the carrier has painted a bleak picture and described the proposed cuts as, “major.”

Let’s take a moment to decipher the data and determine how drastic this cap will really be for the flag carrier. The proposed constraint will limit annual movements at the hub to 440,000 per year. KL, on the other hand, shows that the government previously projected a foreseeable annual movement tally of 540,000.

While this represents a difference of 100,000 movements or a 20% decrease from projected capacity, let us pause for a moment to consider the level of activity at AMS prior to the pandemic. After all, it will bear a closer representation to the actual capacity reduction, rather than drawing similarities to future forecasts.

According to historical data from the airport operator, aircraft movements at the facility were close to 500,000 in both 2018 and 2019. This figure excludes general aviation activity, which accounted for only about 3% of total movements. Thus, the capped figure published by the government amounts to a 60,000 drop in movements compared to what existed at the hub, prior to the pandemic.

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KLM Cityhopper PH-EXU Embraer 175STD. Photo: Fabrizio Spicuglia/Airways

Fleet Surplus

Now, let us focus on the impact on the airline. Based on the airport operator’s historical data, KL accounts for roughly half of all movements at AMS. The IATA definition of a movement is a single takeoff or landing, but considering inbound and outbound movements as a single rotation, makes quantification easier.

Therefore, the 60,000 excess movements correspond to a surplus of 30,000 aircraft rotations. Given that KL normally operates half of all flights at AMS, it can be inferred that the airline will have to cut 15,000 rotations out of its timetable.

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Featured Image: KLM PH-BVA Boeing 777-300ER Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

Aviation author and commercial pilot based in the UK, with close to twenty years in the industry.

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